Small business owners rally against congestion pricing outside City Hall

ByAnthony Carlo, Eyewitness News WABC logo
Tuesday, February 27, 2024
Small business owners rally against congestion pricing
Anthony Carlo has more.

LOWER MANHATTAN (WABC) -- The latest efforts to put the brakes on congestion pricing in Manhattan are being led by New York's Small Business Owners.

Small business owners and elected officials announced an expanded class action lawsuit on the steps of City Hall.

The amended suit includes nearly 50 plaintiffs demanding a thorough environmental and economic impact study.

Congestion pricing would charge a $15 daytime fee for non-commercial passenger vehicles that use E-ZPass and $22.50 for non-E-ZPass drivers to enter Manhattan south of 60th Street.

The plaintiffs say the fee will slash business for restaurants by discouraging patrons and forcing small business owners to cut back on staff and hours.

"We have now got a city that's going to be choked to death," said City Council member Vickie Paladino.

Manhattan business owners like Steven Traube is also feeling the MTA's tight grip.

"They try to make it as complicated as possible in New York City, they really want us to leave and go to Florida I think," said Traube, who owns the Wall Street Grill. "Definitely going to have to rein back on staff just because I know sales will go down."

MTA officials say more than half of the remaining funding for the MTA's $51 billion capital plan for 2020 through 2024 depends on the revenue generated by congestion pricing.

Some major projects are now at risk because of the lawsuits.

The MTA said without the revenue from congestion pricing, it cannot fund signal modernizations, new subway cars, the purchase of more than 250 new electric buses, and perhaps most importantly 20,000 new jobs.

However, MTA did just announce a plan to let people with a qualified disability register for a special license plate to exempt them from the extra tolls.

"For the reset of this capital program, it's all about congestion pricing. With several lawsuits pending, congestion pricing is at risk of delay, despite its benefits to the vast majority of commuters who use transit coming into the city. To be clear, MTA is confident on the legal issues, the environmental review and community outreach we undertook, and the analysis reflected in the 3,000 plus page study were extremely thorough," said Jamie Torres-Springer, MTA Construction & Development President.

Those opposed are calling for every day New Yorkers to testify at an upcoming hearing. Public hearings start later this week.

The MTA believes if they get favorable rulings, they'd still be on track to implement congestion pricing in mid-June.

ALSO READ | MTA releases new details of congestion pricing plan

N.J. Burkett has the details on the MTA's congestion pricing plan.


* Get Eyewitness News Delivered

* More New York City news

* Send us a news tip

* Download the abc7NY app for breaking news alerts

* Follow us on YouTube

Submit a tip or story idea to Eyewitness News

Have a breaking news tip or an idea for a story we should cover? Send it to Eyewitness News using the form below. If attaching a video or photo, terms of use apply.